No formal complaints against Steve Barclay amid 'bullying' claims, DHSC says

Allies of health secretary say allegations staff raised concerns about “bad behaviour” are "untrue"
Photo: Ian Davidson/Alamy Live News

The Department of Health and Social Care has received no formal complaints about Steve Barclay’s behaviour, a spokesperson has said, following allegations that he bullied staff.

The department said no complaints have been made against its ministers, after reports that DHSC staff had “raised concerns” about “bad behaviour” by the health secretary. A source close to Barclay said the allegations were "untrue".

The Guardian reported yesterday that officials had informally complained to DHSC permanent secretary Chris Wormald about Barclay’s behaviour towards them. The reports are alleged to predate a report published last week that found Dominic Raab had bullied staff, leading to the justice secretary’s resignation.

One unnamed source said there were “a lot of unhappy people at the Department of Health just now”, partly due to Barclay’s treatment of staff.

Another told the newspaper that “everyone finds him quite challenging”, while another alleged that his private office staff had “borne the brunt” of his behaviour.

Two more unnamed officials claims that Barclay had “blasted” civil servants in front of other staff in the office, with one saying the health secretary was “constantly angry”.

One source was quoted as saying: “Barclay’s style is very macho… He would say that he’s forensic. But in reality he’s a micro-manager. He hauls people over the coals and is generally a bit unpleasant.”

An ally of Barclay’s said the allegations were “totally untrue” and added: “No complaint has been made about Steve at DHSC or any other department.”

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The department has not received any formal complaints relating to the behaviour of its ministers. Any complaints relating to ministers or members of staff would be investigated in line with departmental guidance.”

The allegations come amid growing tensions between ministers and civil servants, following an investigation that found Dominic Raab had behaved in an "aggressive" and "intimidating" manner towards staff.

Former Foreign Office perm sec Lord Simon McDonald has urged the prime minister to publicly speak up in support of civil servants amid claims that the complaints levelled at Raab were a coordinated attempt to oust the justice secretary.

Investigator Adam Tolley KC said in his report he found the witnesses to be “sincere and committed civil servants, with no ulterior agenda”.

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